Strength training continues to rise in popularity, with the American College of Sports Medicine placing it in the top ten fitness trends for 2018. The past decade has reshaped the way society see lifting weights - no longer is it left to Arnold and a legion of dedicated bodybuilding followers. Weights are now part of many workout routines, including Orangetheory Fitness, F45, and even Pure Barre, and here are four reasons why it should be a part of yours.
This one may sound obvious, but stronger muscles have a bigger impact than you think. Weightlifting isn’t always about how big your biceps are. Weights strengthen your muscles, which can benefit you inside and outside of the gym. If you’re a runner (in the form 5ks, kid-chasing, or running late), strength training will improve your running economy - strengthening your stride, increasing your pace, and increasing the efficiency with which your body moves.
If you're prone to back pain, strength training will help reduce back and hip pain caused by sitting for long periods of time. Stretching is important for tight hips, but lifting weights to strengthen your lower back muscles and hamstrings will also help.
Improve cardiovascular fitness
Not a fan of running or spinning? Maybe you have arthritis or other aches and pains that make cardio less than enjoyable? Weightlifting can provide similar benefits to traditional forms of cardiovascular exercise, meaning you don’t have to force yourself into hour-long runs. Combining low-intensity cardio with low-intensity weightlifting has shown to help cholesterol levels -- a marker for keeping our heart and arteries healthy.
Aging prevention doesn’t only come in the form of eye cream, strength training has its benefits also. Many age-related health issues stem from the loss of muscle mass known as sarcopenia. Luckily, regular strength training can combat loss of muscle and offset sarcopenia.
Bone density isn’t the most fun thing to talk about, but it is an important factor in aging health. Studies repeatedly show strength training’s ability to slow bone loss and potentially increase bone mass. Who needs milk when you have weights?
You know that feeling of victory you get once you finish building a piece of furniture by yourself? Or after you’ve finagled a couch up a flight of stairs? The same feeling comes from challenging yourself to lift heavy weights. Everyone knows exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy, but beyond that, resistance training can increase quality of life, self-perceived health, and decrease anxiety. Think of sweat as your new form of self-care.
Getting started on a weightlifting journey can be intimidating, but just like any other form of exercise, knowledge is power. When you book your strength training class or open gym time, know that you’re doing yourself many long-term favors. It’s time to pick up a dumbbell!